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Creative Cultures

Fred Starr is one of those rare Renaissance men who is a profound thinker on many topics, an active musician, and a man of the world.  Formerly President of Oberlin College and of the Aspen Institute, he gave one of the great speeches to a gathering of the League of American Orchestras some years ago diagnosing the problems of the field. He also chaired the Advisory Committee for the Knight Foundation’s ten-year initiative to assist symphony orchestras.  Currently, he is chairman of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International. Whenever he writes something, I know it will be interesting. One of his latest pieces discusses Central Asia from the 9th to 12th centuries – a period of time in which the region was the focal point of science, art and philosophy. For those who worry about whether the United States of the 21st century can retain its dominance as a center of creativity and innovation, this article is a great read.  No society can expect to hold a dominant position forever, he argues, but, based on the experience of Central Asia, there are many forces that can influence the rise and fall of a creative culture.  In this time of simplistic formulations and prescriptions for fostering a creative workforce, it is refreshing to have the long view.


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